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Meet the Refugee Trying to be Boston’s First Muslim City Councilor

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Somali-American refugee and immigrant rights activist Deeqo Jibril arrived in Boston in 1991 after fleeing civil war. Today, she is running for Boston City Council in Roxbury, Massachusetts. If she wins this November, she will be the first Muslim elected to the Boston City Council and hopes to inspire others to be more civically engaged.

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Canada

Canada continues to respond to critical humanitarian needs in Somalia, Will provide $10.4 million for humanitarian assistance

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Canada is concerned by the extremely fragile humanitarian situation in Somalia and supports international efforts to meet the basic needs of the millions of Somalis facing hunger, disease, displacement, physical insecurity and loss of livelihoods. Somalia continues to face the ongoing effects of nearly three decades of conflict and insecurity as well as the impact of chronic drought and other natural disasters.

The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, today announced, on behalf of the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, that Canada will provide $10.4 million for humanitarian assistance to vulnerable communities in Somalia.

Minister Hussen made the announcement during an event with members of the Somalian community in Etobicoke, Ontario.

This new funding will be allocated to the World Food Programme, UNICEF, the United Nations Development Programme and the American Refugee Committee to help address the critical needs of Somalis affected by the ongoing severe drought and food insecurity in Somalia.

Canada has adopted a Feminist International Assistance Policy, which supports gender-responsive humanitarian action that makes it easier for women, girls and all young children to access nutritious foods and supplements. This better addresses the unique needs of women and girls in a humanitarian crisis.

Quotes

“While Somalia has taken great steps in recent years toward peace and stability, the country remains vulnerable to both natural disasters and conflict. Canada stands in solidarity with Somalia and the millions of Somalis requiring humanitarian assistance in the face of drought and insecurity. Canada is proud to provide this humanitarian assistance to address the needs of the most vulnerable and ensure those requiring emergency assistance are reached.”

– Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Quick Facts

  • Since 2015, Canada has allocated $89.3 million to address drought- and conflict-related humanitarian needs in Somalia, which includes $4.6 million from the Famine Relief Fund.
  • This funding has been channelled through UN agencies, the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement and non-governmental organizations to help provide food, water and sanitation; treatment for acute malnutrition; and other medical support, shelter and protection to those in need.
  • Canada also provides humanitarian support for approximately 1 million Somali refugees living in neighbouring countries through its funding to the UN Refugee Agency and the World Food Programme.

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Contacts

Minister’s Office
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
613-952-1650

Media Relations
Communications Branch
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
613-952-1650
CIC-Media-Relations@cic.gc.ca

Marie-Emmanuelle Cadieux
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of International Development and La Francophonie
343-203-6238
marie-emmanuelle.cadieux@international.gc.ca

Media Relations Office
Global Affairs Canada
343-203-7700
media@international.gc.ca
Follow us on Twitter: @CanadaDev
Like us on Facebook: Canada’s international development – Global Affairs Canada

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Diaspora

Somalis face ‘slave ship conditions’ on failed deportation flight

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Ninety-two Somali immigrants, set to be deported from the US, found themselves shackled at the hands and feet and kept aboard a plane for two days earlier this month. That part of the story is not in dispute.
The Somalis left Louisiana on Dec. 7. Their flight, chartered by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, was bound for Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia. But the plane never arrived.

After landing in Dakar, Senegal, on Africa’s west coast, the one-way flight became a round trip, back to the US. Why that happened, though, remains subject to dispute.

The 92 immigrants, now being held at the Krome and Glades detention facility outside Miami, are consulting with their lawyers.

The passengers say they were denied food and water and weren’t allowed to use the bathroom. “One of my colleagues characterized them as slave ship conditions,” says attorney Kimberly Hunter, who represents two of the passengers on the flight.

“ICE disputes accounts about lack of adequate food, water and restrooms — although those inadequacies are consistent with reports that we’ve had from our clients,” she says.

According to ICE, the flight was returned to the US because the relief flight crew was unable to get sufficient rest.

“So [the passengers] were held on the tarmac to allow the crew to rest and subsequently, due to ‘logistical concerns,’ returned to the US,” Hunter says.

But Hunter believes the flight was turned back for another reason.

“Somali media report that, due to protests taking place in Mogadishu pertaining to the Jerusalem decision by [the Trump] administration, the security situation just became completely untenable as far as allowing that flight to land,” she says.

Hunter believes ICE will try to send the group to Mogadishu again soon. Once in Somalia, even those who might have grounds to appeal their deportation will be unable to return.

“I think it’s reflective of the Trump Administration’s overall crackdown on immigration as well as reflective of their attitude towards Somalia and towards Muslims,” she says.

One of her clients, Abdoulmalik Ibrahim, could, in theory, be allowed to return to the United States because his American wife is entitled to file a petition for him.

“But he’s got no way to actually return now or in the near future, with the fact that the Somali travel ban has recently been allowed to continue.”

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Somalis say they were shackled and beaten on aborted ICE deportation flight

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Rahim Mohamed, 32, was already dreading being deported from his home of 15 years in Atlanta to Somalia, a country he hadn’t seen since he was a teenager.

His dread transformed into a nightmare when he was chained to a seat on a plane for 46 hours with 91 other Somalis who say they were denied adequate food, water, medication, and even access to a restroom.

Allegations of mistreatment is the latest turn for the ill-fated flight, chartered last week by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to return Somalis to Somalia, one of several Muslim-majority countries named in the Trump administration’s controversial travel ban. It’s unclear how many were undocumented or targeted for another reason, but some onboard had lived here for decades and were slated for eventual deportation because of improper entry into the country, according to the New York Times.

The flight to Mogadishu left the U.S. last Thursday but was grounded in Dakar, Senegal, where the Somalis were confined on the hot plane on the tarmac for hours before returning to the U.S. under mysterious circumstances.

The would-be deportees, now being held in detention centers in Florida, are talking about what happened during the ordeal. Mohamed, who came to the U.S. in 2002 as a teenager and was given pending deportation orders in 2005 after missing a court date, said fights broke out on board as passengers tried to use the bathroom.

Mohamed said he was struck in the face and began bleeding as an ICE agent fought his seatmate. “He was choking somebody else next to my seat, and he tried to hit the other dude, and I moved out of the way and got hit,” Mohamed said. “To cover up the traces, they took his shirt.”

Mohamed is also diabetic, and he said denial of medicine and movement caused his vision to blur and his legs to swell so severely he had trouble walking off the plane.

Rachel Petersen, a Minneapolis-based attorney representing another detainee onboard, says her client reported a similar experience. “He mentioned they did not have sufficient food or access to bathrooms and that violence was exacted against passengers who tried to use the bathroom,” Petersen said in an email to VICE News.

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), a civil rights group, said Tuesday it had “direct reports” of the same lack of access to humanitarian supplies and bathrooms, as well as “abusive” treatment of the detainees at the hands of ICE and Senegalese security personnel.

The group sent a letter to ICE Deputy Director Thomas D. Homan regarding the alleged mistreatment.

“Forcing these individuals to remain restrained for nearly a day on an airport tarmac, in smoldering temperatures, without consistent access to food, water, toilets, or air-conditioning is simply inhumane and unacceptable,” ADC Legal Director Abed Ayoub said in a statement. “ICE cannot act with such disregard for its detainees, and must be held accountable.”

ICE disputed the prisoners’ accounts, telling VICE News detainees had adequate access to food, water, AC, and restrooms, but that they could not disembark the plane. It did not comment on whether detainees were shackled to the chairs.

“No one was injured during the flight, and there were no incidents or altercations that would have caused any injuries on the flight,” ICE said in a statement. “Claims that detainees were physically threatened are categorically false.”

Petersen says trouble broke out even before the plane left the U.S. Her client broke his arm in ICE custody falling off a bed. He alerted ICE multiple times to the injury and eventually received a cast, but was put on the plane to Somalia before being able to attend his scheduled follow-up appointments.

When asked about the reported broken arm, ICE said safety is a top priority and the detainee’s account was “likely false.” It also mentioned that detainees were screened upon arriving back in the U.S., with no injuries being reported or noted.

But what happened on the plane isn’t the only disputed fact about this flight. There are conflicting accounts of why the plane turned around in the first place. ICE said in a statement to VICE News that a lack of “sufficient crew rest” caused the plane to do its U-turn in Senegal. A relief crew were due for rest in Dakar, but a disruption at their hotel made that impossible, so they were required to turn around and return to the U.S.

Mohamed and others onboard said ICE agents told the detainees they were turning around because of a mechanical issue, not a crew problem. Kim Hunter, a St. Paul, Minnesota–based immigration attorney whose firm represents two men who were on the flight, said her clients reported hearing the same story about the mechanical issue from ICE.

Additionally, Mohamed, having heard from his family in the U.S. and Somalia, believes an al-Shabaab threat to the returning Westerners caused the Somali government to refuse their re-entry.
The Somali government did not respond to multiple requests for comment. One Somali news site, meanwhile, blamed the turnaround on recent protests in Mogadishu following Trump’s announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

When asked about these reasons, ICE reiterated the plane turned around due to logistical problems.

John Bruning, an attorney working with Hunter, says attorneys are on their way down to Florida to meet the men in the detention facilities. Mirella Ceja-Orozco, Mohamed’s attorney, says attorneys involved in the case are meeting to discuss federal litigation, and she’s reached out to Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison for help, as many of the men on the flight live in Minnesota.

Ellison’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Whatever actually happened on the flight, it’s clear that more Somalis are at risk than ever of deportation under the Trump administration. Hunter and Mohamed’s attorney reported their clients were detained during a regular check-in with ICE, a strategy that’s becoming increasingly common as Trump targets immigrants who were low priorities under the Obama administration.

According to federal data, deportations back to Somalia have spiked to 521 people this financial year, up from 198 from the previous period, even though the country just experienced one of the worst terror attacks in its history, with al-Shabaab killing over 300 in a truck bombing in the heart of Mogadishu.

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